ARC Blog

New Ways to Conquer Social Anxiety

01.05.21 | by Mia Barnes | Anxiety Disorders

Do you get more than a little nervous when the office social butterfly organizes a happy hour? Perhaps baby or wedding shower invitations make you want to RSVP “no,” even when you don’t have other plans. 

If you’re one of the millions of Americans with social anxiety disorder, your reluctance to participate is understandable. 

However, caving to your isolationist tendencies can result in loneliness and lack of advancement in life — we all rely on one another. Learn more about the condition and eight positive tips to help you cope.

Social anxiety is the second-most common anxiety disorder, affecting roughly 15 million American adults. It refers to an intense fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in social or performance situations.

For example, if you have the condition, you might not have dreaded speech day in high school — you might have skipped out altogether. The problem arises when you believe that people will criticize you. This keeps you from participating in activities that you might otherwise benefit from or enjoy.

Unfortunately, many people turn to drugs or alcohol to self medicate. Alcohol inhibits your impulse-control mechanisms, which can make you temporarily feel more confident. However, when those effects wear off, you could face a downward spiral. Drinking upsets the level of neurotransmitters in your brain. As these rebound to normal, you could experience worsening anxiety and depression.

8 Ways to Challenge Social Anxiety

Attend a Happy Hour

How does this advice correlate with no drinking? Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom happy hours have soared in popularity, and you don’t have to socialize only with co-workers. You can mix up a tasty, alcohol-free beverage for the event.

Post One Response

Social media offers another way to overcome your anxiety. Challenge yourself to post one reply to a friend’s post each day.

Say Hi on Your Walk

How many of your neighbors do you know? Inspire a sense of community by saying hi on your morning walk or jog. The benefits of giving a greeting are clear. If someone doesn’t respond, they may be lost in thought or listening to earbuds. If they reply in kind, you get an ego boost without having to interrupt your workout to make small talk.

Chit-Chat with the Cashier

Guess what? Cashiers are people too and many of them have interesting stories to share. The next time you pick up a quart of almond milk, exchange pleasantries with the person ringing your goods. Here, again, your facetime is limited —  you don’t want to aggravate folks behind you in line. However, a quick “Have you been busy?” helps you overcome shyness and connect.

Help a Neighbor in Need

Did you spy the sweet lady, who shares your building, struggling to carry several bags in one trip? Perhaps you could offer to help carry groceries to the third floor. Seek out and participate in community events, too, like yard sales. You might earn a few bucks, and you’ll get a chance to meet your neighbors in a low-pressure way.

Find a Work Mentor

Do you want to supercharge your career while overcoming social anxiety? Why not seek a mentor?Start by deciding what you want from your career — it’s challenging to point out a path if you don’t know where you’re going. Then, search for professionals in your network and invite them to coffee or tea. Say, “I’m working on such-and-such, and you seem like an expert. Could I buy you a cup of joe and get your perspective?”

Phone an Old Friend

Sometimes, your oldest and dearest friends can remind you of all there is to love about your personality. If you have the time, dial up that old college roommate. You have oodles of conversation starters, beginning with, “What have you been up to all these years?” What if you no longer keep in touch with your former circle? Can you seek them out on social media? Many platforms allow you to send a direct message — you can ask for their new digits from there.

Volunteer for a Cause

Finally, volunteering offers the ideal way to meet other people who support the same causes you do. Plus, the activity gets your brain primed and ready for meeting new peeps. Performing acts of kindness increases your levels of serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin — all neurotransmitters that put you in a positive frame of mind. It is an election year, and scores of organizations need your help to encourage voters to do their civic duty. If politics turn your stomach, why not walk dogs or socialize kitties at a local shelter?

Conquering social anxiety can seem daunting. However, by practicing gentleness with yourself and using the tips above, you can gradually emerge from your shell.

Author Bio
Mia Barnes is a health and wellness writer with an interest in mental wellbeing and growth. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Body +Mind.

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